Photo by Sean Kerwin in his backyard, Hancock, NH
The New Hampshire bobcat has been making news lately. It's been good news, too, with an increase in population from approximately 150 in the 1980's to 1400 currently.Why the good news?
In 1989 all hunting and trapping was stopped.
How do you get a head count on bobcats?
It's tough because bobcats don't stalk their prey as much as they figure out where food is plentiful and then they wait. They don't like to be seen by humans, so sightings aren't common. But, trappers and scientists from the University of New Hampshire, tagged bobcats with collars and tracked their movements. The collars eventually came off and released a radio signal to be gathered. The info left on the collar was valuable.
What did they learn?
Bobcats use a 10-15 mile radius. They like to be near a water source, such as a lake or river. They eat rabbit, squirrels, birds, and small mammals. Due to the changing landscape of NH and the loss of fields, farmland, the number of small mammal consumption has increased. Years ago bobcat's diet was different - more deer, hare, and rabbit,
Image from JoCoSAR blogWhat do they look like?
Bobcats look like felines, but are confused with other wild cats - lynx, cougar, etc. Bobcats have a short tail and weigh up to 40 pounds. They are primary nocturnal creatures. They can leap up to 12 feet and run as fast as 30 mph.
In summer, their coats are brown tinged with red. In winter, their coats are thicker and more gray.
Currently, NH is considering a potential hunting season for the increased bobcat population. The powers that be are hearing proposals for limited season to keep the population in check.